Electoral College

This article is part of a series entitled Everyday Game Theory. See also:
1. The Escalator’s Dilemma; 2. Electoral College; 3. Passing Curiosity; 4. Lesson Time

This article is a response to the article Voting Cartels are Anticompetitive.

“How do you solve a problem like Ben Carson?”

Jim Rutenberg posed this question, in the March issue of the New York Times Magazine, before beginning an in-depth profile of the Republican presidential candidate and his role in the upcoming 2016 election. Though Carson, a retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon and an oft-called “outsider” [1] is not likely to be elected — as Rutenberg would have it — he certainly might disrupt the plans of the establishment Right. “A candidacy like Carson’s presents a new kind of problem to the establishment wing of the G.O.P.,” Rutenberg suggests. [2]

Ben Carson, a former pediatric neurosurgeon, is seeking the Republican 2016 nomination for president.

Ben Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, is seeking the Republican 2016 nomination for president.

The precise nature of this problem, though, depends on whom you ask about it. Ben Carson’s supporters might see things a different way. Negative claims about Carson’s electability – Rutenberg writes, for example, that “His chances of victory are miniscule” – could frighten Carson’s would-be supporters into the safer territories of the establishment. These threats could become self-fulfilling.

Ben Carson’s candidacy does exhibit a “problem”. The problem is unelectability. The solution is voter organization. Continue reading